A federal program putting interactive language tablet games in the hands of pre-schoolers is set to change the staggering low rates of students studying a second language.
While Australia is a proud multicultural nation with more than 250 languages other than English spoken at home, the linguistic diversity isn't translating into schools.
The $9.8 millon scheme aims to improve the rate of Year 12 students electing to study a second language, after government figures showed the number had dropped to as low as 12 per cent.
Franklin Early Childhood School was one of the 40 selected preschools involved in the Early Learning Language Australia (ELLA) trial and the only one in the ACT.
The children are being taught Mandarin, one of the five focus languages, using games and interactive apps.
Principal Julie Cooper, who has just returned from a principal study tour in China, said the program had started a whole new generation of language learning within the school.
But a local language expert said even more progress could be made harnessing community capacity and "thinking outside the box".
ACT Bilingual Education Alliance secretary Mandy Scott said thinking laterally and drawing on resources outside the classroom was necessary to achieve change in the territory.
Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese are some of the top languages spoken in the ACT however they fall outside the scope of the priority languages taught in Canberra schools.
"If kids are interested in learning Arabic for instance, why not draw on community language skills and co-ordinate there," she said.
"If everyone gets together and pools resources we can work together to provide more variety and opportunity to learn languages."
She said major stumbling blocks remained after years of languages being taught at the secondary school level, resulting in a lack of qualified teachers seeding early interest in language learning at the primary and preschool levels.
Knowing the languages of key regional partners has been touted by the Department of Education as key to Australia's global competitiveness, and bilingualism has also been associated with a range of benefits for young learners including improved creativity, higher test scores and mental agility.
In the same vein as the push to boost Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering (STEM) teaching capacity, the government has suggested incorporating language specialisation within Australian teaching degrees.
"We wrote to UC Vice Chancellor Stephen Parker and asked about their ideas on the government's call for language specialisation for primary school teachers," Ms Scott said.
"A joint degree between the ANU and UC was announced for next year so people can simultaneously finish off a science or maths degree and do part of a masters [degree] in education. So we asked about doing a similar thing for languages graduates."
Across Canberra about 26,000 public school students are studying languages, a two fold increase since the ACT government's Language Pathways Plan program was introduced in 2008.
While there has been a marked increase in school-aged students studying languages, Ms Scott said more progress could be made harnessing community capacity and "thinking outside the box".
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